Business internet net neutrality Regs

ISPA Council beefed up with some heavy hitting members

I went to the bi-monthly Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) board meeting today. ISPA has four new council members representing BT, Eclipse Internet, Everything Everywhere and O2.

That these large organisations are keen to participate in the running of the ISP industry Trade Association is a reflection of the amount of legislative activity going on surrounding the internet in the UK.

I’d go so far to say that government attempts to regulate the internet are currently at an unprecedented level – I guess as our daily lives move into the cloud this is not a surprise but should not be seen as inevitable.

Business net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality

A week is a long time in politics but politicians seem happy to take most of the summer off. I have just had a 2 week break where I avoided anything to do with work and even kept away from blogging. The latter involved a huge effort because there is so much going on internet-wise.

This emotional pull was made more stressful by the fact that news is disseminated and commented on so quickly these days that to write about something that is more than a day old is to be seen to be writing about a historical event and not a current hot topic.

Fortunately last week’s Google news has spilled over into this week and I am back in action. This news concerns Google and its supposed pact with Verizon regarding Net Neutrality – both companies support the idea of an open net for fixed line services but with loopholes for mobile traffic and for some specialized content.

Business internet net neutrality ofcom

UK All Party Comms Group publishes inquiry results

The All Party Parliamentary Communications Group (apComms) is an independent group of MPs and Lords, from all political parties, which seeks to encourage debate on a range of communications issues.

During the summer the group conducted an inquiry into a wide range of internet related issues and made the results public yesterday during the Parliament and Internet Conference.

In my mind this is a significant document which actually proposes to go against Government policy in some areas. I’ve condensed its 43 pages into a few bullet points here.

  1. A recommendation that here should be a green paper on internet privacy. Good.
  2. The Government should not continue with the illegal file sharing idea in Digital Britain but wait for the EU to finish its long awaited  Telecoms Package and fit in with that. Likely to cause a stir but sensible!
  3. Behavioural Advertising – Where are the rights of the citizen? – recommend that on behavioural advertising there should be a far more explicit way for people to understand what they are signing up for. Quite right too.
  4. Internet safety should become a core curriculum topic at ks1 and ks4. Good.
  5. IWF should extend notice and take down to the rest of the world. Gov’t should not legislate to enforce iwf blocking
  6. Keep network neutrality under review
  7. Ofcom regulates to require ISPs to advertise min guaranteed speeds for broadband.   This is currently done under a voluntary code of practice. OK.
  8. ISPs have to take proactive steps to detect and remove illegal content from their servers.  Hmmm.

I don’t think I captured all the points here but certainly the main ones. We will also need to digest what is in the report  and whilst I’m sure not everyone will agree with its content it is certainly a good stimulation for debate. 

The report can be viewed in its entirety here.

Business internet net neutrality Regs

Net neutrality governance debate

Interesting online debate next week concerning whether Net Neutrality can be “governed”. Although it is a North American debate I imagine it will cover lots of areas that we in the UK should be interested in. If I can fit in the time I will attend. Details here and below:

“FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has expanded from four to six the principles of freedom associated with Net Neutrality. Now however these principles are now going to be codified into regulatory rules. So the question has to be asked can the concept of “open” be governed. Join us as we look at how these principles will be incorporated into policy. What companies, services and devices will be subject to these rules. And discuss if the jurisdiction of the FCC has to be modified to enable these principles.

Participants include: Todd Daubert of Kelley Drye, Hank Hultquist of AT&T and Rick Whitt of Google.
Join us on Tuesday October 6th, 2009 at 12:30 EST to 1:30 EST as we see if Open can be Governed”

Business internet net neutrality voip

Net neutrality, Skype and Commissioner Reding

Continuing with the theme of reports I’ve been reading the EuroISPA report that comes across my desk every month. Like it or not when the EC magisterially waves its authoritative hand we do feel the ripples in the UK.

This month in response to a parliamentary question on T-Mobile blocking Skype over broadband networks in Germany, Commissioner Reding, interestingly, referred to the provision of the Universal Directive, namely art. 2(3), whereby National Regulatory Authorities are empowered to intervene by setting minimum quality of service requirements for network transmission services, “as an additional safeguard in instances where competitive forces alone, are not enough to safeguard the openness of the Internet”.

If you’re like me your mind goes blank when you read all this regulatory jargon.  However with this one we need to note that in the pursuit of net neutrality, which as a consumer I’m all for, setting minimum quality of service levels requirements on ISPs is going to cost money. Skype should not be blocked by anyone but neither should ISPs be obliged to prioritise Skype traffic without someone footing the bill.

By the way you can use Skype to your heart’s content on the Timico network though most of our business VoIP customers chose to use our own VoIP service.

Business internet net neutrality

The complex world in which we live

I have sometimes observed at how complex the world of technology is and how difficult it is for small businesses to know whether they are making the right choices technically. 

As a provider of practically every type of communications service you can think of (satellite is the one I think we have never provided although I’m sure that some one from Timico will now correct me) we not only have to juggle with the technology and the commercial complexities thereof but also with the regulatory minefields that are liberally scattered in our way. 

As a good citizen I am actually happy to be seen to properly negotiate these minefields. My first Internet Service Providers’ Association meeting this morning  brought it home in no uncertain terms the need to have friends that can help you through.

ISPA is or has had recently to deal with subjects ranging from 

  • whether ISPs are being fair to consumers in how they advertise their broadband speeds
  • is the use of a “fair use” policy fair when your literature majors on “unlimited” broadband
  • Net Neutrality and the throttling of certain types of traffic such as peer to peer (remember P2P has legitimate uses as well as illegal ones)
  • liability of ISPs in respect of websites hosted on their equipment
  • the safety of children on the internet – ref UKCCIS – UK Council for Children Internet Safety
  • the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSV) and what constitutes TV and should therefore be licensed
  • Piracy
  • who pays for free content downloaded from the internet (it is possible to put a cost against a 60 minute TV show for example)
  • legal intercept of VoIP based telephone conversations
  • provision of 999 location based information
  • data retention
  • should ISPs moderate content on their network

The list is endless and represents rich pickings for the legal profession hovering nearby. I trust that I will be able to provide readers of this blog with suitable insight into these subjects as we move forward.